Insights, News

Building Partnerships for a Strong Start

Aug 11, 2021

San Francisco Bay Area

GreenLight Fund invested to bring Food Connect to the Bay Area in 2020 at the height of the pandemic to assist with food insecurity – a rapidly growing issue area

The key to this selection cycle was twofold: building and expediting an effective ecosystem of partnerships on the ground to quickly implement programming; and sustaining a wide network of partners necessary to scale within and beyond the Bay Area.

Creating an Ecosystem for Success & Building Networks for Scale

GreenLight often takes on the role of facilitator. Driving countless conversations leading up to selection and continuing over several months post-selection, GreenLight acted as a bridge to help Food Connect build the initial pipeline of partnerships. GreenLight navigated and built trust within the community so Food Connect could quickly begin working across sectors to deliver food.

GreenLight initiated conversations with school districts interested in potential partnerships, including discussions with a longtime partner of GreenLight Fund — the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD).

GreenLight knew if Food Connect could partner with a school district, this partnership would act as a validator to the community and other partners. It would not be long before Food Connect would expand more easily within the City of San Francisco and across the Bay Area.

Food Connect began delivering meals to students and families within SFUSD in January 2021.

“Partnering with Food Connect has been a game-changer for the San Francisco Unified School District’s meal delivery program! With this partnership, we were able to immediately expand meal delivery for all students who had been on our waitlist. Through Food Connect’s services including recruiting drivers, creating routes, and providing communication support to families, we are now delivering 4500+ meals each week to students across San Francisco. It’s been great to work with Food Connect’s efficient and capable team and has taken a huge lift off of our staff while reliably providing a much-needed resource to the community.” – Jennifer Lebarre, Executive Director, Student Nutrition Services, SFUSD

As a result of this work, Franklin-McKinley Unified School District and Alum Rock Unified School District (both located in San Jose) began a partnership with Food Connect a few months later. The ongoing support and buy-in from the community enabled Food Connect to thrive, and over time, will be able to scale throughout the Bay Area.

“I love working with you both. What would take me 2-3 years to build is now taking one phone call from you. #Jawdropping” – Megha Kulshreshtha, Executive Director, Food Connect

In the months that followed, Food Connect was able to build partnerships with Food Shift, Replate, SF New Deal, Captain Planet Foundation, and Trans Lifeline – scaling their impact throughout the Bay Area.

Ongoing Thought Partnership

As Food Connect focuses on building out its programmatic work, GreenLight works with the organization to focus on its strategy locally and, specific to this case, nationally. As Food Connect builds out its national focus, GreenLight was offered a national board seat to assist with the organization’s national ramp-up, coach the Food Connect team through programmatic and fundraising strategies, and continue making connections to prospective funders and partners across the Bay Area. In addition, GreenLight convenes all local portfolio leaders on a quarterly basis to share experiences, workshop pain points, and collaborate to ensure each organization feels supported and ultimately thrives.